Australians urged to beware of new PayID impersonation scam

National Australia Bank (NAB) on Monday urged people who sell unwanted or used items online to watch out for a new PayID impersonation scam, as thousands look to ramp up side hustles or become more engaged with their finances to deal with the rising cost-of-living pressures.

The bank said in a statement that it has seen an increasing number of scams related to fake PayID communication in recent weeks, which often target people selling items on second-hand websites.

According to an example provided by NAB, scammers will buy items using PayID but then claim that the transaction couldn’t be completed because the seller doesn’t have a PayID business account.

Scammers will claim they’ve sent extra money to upgrade the account, send a fake email, and pressure the seller to reimburse them. But no money will ever appear in the seller’s account.

Researchers from the bank found that though 53 percent of Aussies are holding on to around 1,500 Australian dollars (about 1,007 U.S. dollars) worth of unwanted goods, more than 25 percent of people are deterred from selling items because of social media hassles.

Besides, 260,000 Australian dollars (about 174,695 U.S. dollars) were lost due to PayID-specific impersonation scams last year, according to Scamwatch, the government’s official tool for reporting scams, while total scam reports to NAB increased 38 percent year-on-year.

NAB Executive for Group Investigations and Fraud Chris Sheehan said PayID deception was the latest impersonation scam and the true number of scams impacting the community was expected to be higher given many aren’t reported.

“No one wants to try to sell their old couch, fridge, phone or pram and it inadvertently ends up costing them. Unfortunately, that’s what’s happening more and more when people try to sell items online,” Sheehan said.

PayID is a free payment method that uses a person or business’ mobile phone number, email address, or Australian Business Number to send and receive funds almost instantly.

A national survey, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in last week, showed that 65 percent of Australians aged 15 years and over – about 13.2 million people – were exposed to a scam in 2021-22, up from 55 percent in the previous year.

Phone, text message and email were the most common modes of scam exposure among Australians, the study noted. ■

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